Everybody’s anxious to see Aaron Nola return to form, and with a heater touching the mid-90s and a diving curve, he looked like today could be the day. The Phillies had a healthy, if a bit meandering, Nola on the mound with a rested bullpen behind him following Nick Pivetta’s complete game on Saturday. But those full counts kept creeping in, and Nola was offering more long at-bats than he should have been. In the second, the Reds plunked a couple of hits off of him and squeezed out an early 1-0 lead.
Are you a fan of the “hustle” narrative? Had some of that today, too. Rhys Hoskins didn’t bust it out of the batters box when he popped up with two outs in the third inning, and when Joey Votto lost the ball in the sun, Hoskins was on first and not second. Meanwhile, two runs scored, including Bryce Harper, who hustled home and, in a play that was reviewed and didn’t look to be close at all, actually managed to slide under the tag of Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart. Angel Hernandez successfully conveyed the “safe” ruling from New York without ejecting the whole infield or eating his own hat, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
The Phillies were aggressive on the base paths in the fifth, which led to them extending their lead but also to the inning ending. Cesar Hernandez worked a one-out walk and stole second base, raced to third on a Harper single (Harper wound up on second) and Jean Segura sac flied in Hernandez to make it 3-1. With Rhys Hoskins batting, Harper tried to race home and steal a run off Reds starter Sonny Gray (whose name Scott Franzke called “a meteorological oxymoron”), but this time, he couldn’t evade the tag and became the inning’s third out, letting everyone wonder if perhaps he would have been better off seeing if Hoskins could have done the job.
No matter! The Phillies were up by two with Good Aaron Nola on the mound. Until the seventh. With two outs, there were a couple of hits, a passed ball that almost looked like a J.T. Realmuto injury, and Gabe Kapler decided that he’d bring in Jose Alvarez to get out of the inning. Nola left to applause, but because he couldn’t get that third out, the Red immediately dunked on Alvarez with a pair of singles from Nick Senzel and Votto. Vince Velasquez was brought in to see if he could end the seventh, and he did, eventually, but not before giving up an RBI single of his own. The Reds had the 4-3 lead, and the Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the seventh and eighth before getting the tying run on base in the ninth, but being unable to tie the game.
The sweep was lost, and with the Marlins handing a win over to the Braves in Miami, the Phillies lead in the NL East has been halved to a single game. It’s the Diamondbacks to start this week. In the meantime, check out Cutch’s new Twitter bio.